1. Verify your home is insured for its current value.
The biggest risk you may face if your home suffers major damage during a severe storm or tornado is being underinsured. With changing costs of construction materials and labor, home insurance reconstruction costs have increased over the years.
Some policies include guaranteed replacement cost, but the limit may be capped. Inquire about policy endorsements available to you to guarantee you are fully covered in a major loss.
2. Find out what kind of home insurance policy you have.
Do you have an All Risk or Open Perils policy to ensure the maximum protection for your home and personal property?
3. Find out if you have a specific deductible in the event of a tornado or windstorm.
Higher risk areas may impose higher deductibles.
4. Understand the claims process before you have to make a claim.
Find out what the basis of claims payment will be. Do you have Replacement Cost, Actual Cash Value (ACV) or a Replacement Value with Cash Out Option? Cash Out options are less common and only available for high-end insurance policies.
5. Does your policy have any special limits or policy features?
You may want to purchase additional protection for valuable items, such as jewelry or collections.
6. Prepare an inventory of the contents in your home, including contents in additional structures like tool or garden sheds.
Take video while you walk around your property or take photos and store these in a safe place, ideally with copies off-site or in the possession of someone you can trust.
7. Find out what kind of coverage you have if there is a power failure.
8. Find out what your limit is for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) and how you can expect the coverage to work.
During a devastating loss, like damage to your home from a major windstorm or tornado, you may not be able to live in your home while repairs are done in the area, or to your property. This coverage will be vital in major losses. Homeowners who have a mortgage will still be expected to pay that loan back while the home is being rebuilt.
Additional living expenses cover the increased cost of living due to the displacement, and this includes that extra rent you will have to pay for your temporary home or the higher costs of food if you have to eat out because you don’t have a kitchen to make your meals in for a while.
9. Make sure your car insurance includes comprehensive coverage, for damage such as hail, falling objects and windstorms.
Vehicles are at risk to all kinds of damage in storms.
10. Ask if you have coverage for a rental car is your car needs repairs.
It’s nice to have insurance coverage that replaces or repairs the vehicle, but the time you spend without a car while you wait to get your vehicle back can be challenging. If you need your car during that time, it could cost you a lot of money to rent one. Coverage for a rental loaner, while your car is repaired, is not expensive to add to your policy.
11. If you have a vehicle in “storage” make sure you haven’t forgotten about coverage (or deleted coverage) while it’s in storage.
Liability coverage will not protect your car from physical damage that often occurs during storms and tornadoes.
12. If you sustain storm damage, contact your insurer as soon as possible and start the claims filing process.
After tornadoes and other disasters, insurance companies will reach out to those with the worst losses first.
13. Do you have flood insurance?
The risk of flood is substantial and it’s constantly and rapidly changing. Currently, only about 6% of the U.S. population is insured for the perils of flood.
Choosing flood insurance used to be a relatively simple decision. Property owners had two options: no insurance or one-size-fits-all, government-issued insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Now, there are more choices. Private flood insurance is growing more robust, bringing new and relevant options that were never available before, such as coverage for additional living expenses, enhanced basement coverage and increased limits for various risk classes.
14. Our agency welcomes the opportunity to go over this checklist with you even if you are insured elsewhere. Don't wait until it's too late. Call us today.
Renters insurance may not be required, but having a policy is certainly a smart idea. Here are some reasons why you should have renter’s insurance.
Why you might need renter’s insurance
Avoid paying out of pocket for stolen or damaged goods.
Having to pay out of pocket for damaged or stolen personal items in your rented apartment, condo or house is not ideal for most tenants. Additionally, your landlord’s insurance policy will not cover your personal belongings, making a separate renters insurance policy necessary for full coverage.
Protect yourself from liability
Keep in mind that renter’s insurance doesn’t just apply to your belongings. It can also protect you from liability in a situation such as a guest being injured in your home. If you don’t foresee having the funds to cover expensive medical bills or legal fees on your own, renters insurance can come in handy.
How to get renters insurance
Estimate the value of your personal property
The monetary value of your personal belongings in your rented space may be more than you think. Take an inventory of every item in your space – from electronics to art to home goods to clothing. Estimate the current value of these items (not what you paid for them) and tally them up. This is a good way to approximate how much insurance you will need in the event your belongings are stolen or destroyed.
Get a renter’s insurance quote
Just call one of our experienced insurance agents to help determine the best coverage and plan for your financial situation. Remember that a higher deductible means a lower insurance premium and a lower deductible means a higher premium – plan your renters insurance budget accordingly.
You need commercial auto insurance for any vehicle that your company uses for business purposes, any vehicle that has a commercial license plate or tag and any vehicle that is registered as a commercial auto.
You must also get commercial auto coverage if your employees will be driving or using vehicles in the course of doing business, whether making deliveries, driving people to the airport or running errands on behalf of the business.
If you use your vehicle for any of the following functions, you may also be required to get commercial coverage:
Most people agree that honesty is the best policy, but when it comes to filling out insurance applications, many consumers are willing to fudge the truth to get a better rate. According to a recent study, an estimated 35 million Americans have lied on an insurance application.
Almost one in three (29 percent) of the people who have lied on an insurance application have done so for car insurance. That amounts to 10.2 million Americans who were willing to lie to get the best coverage for the road.
Following car insurance, false information is most likely to appear on applications for health insurance (22 percent), life insurance (21 percent), income protection insurance (8 percent), travel insurance (7 percent), home and contents insurance (7 percent) and pet insurance (5 percent).
More men lie than women, but women are more likely than men to lie on an application in five of seven categories: health insurance, income protection insurance, travel insurance, home and contents insurance and pet insurance. Men lead women when it comes to lying on car insurance and life insurance applications.
Taking creative liberties on your insurance application may seem like an innocent white lie, but it’s actually considered fraud, and the repercussions can be serious. If found out you may be charged a higher premium, denied a policy or even charged with fraud, requiring you to pay a fine or even do jail time.
There are numerous legitimate ways to save money on car insurance without lying. Let our agency do the for shopping around for you.
It's important that mobile home owners understand they have different insurance coverage requirements. We provide mobile home insurance policies for all types of manufactured and mobile home owners. When you choose our agency, you will receive the following:
Coverage for mobile/manufactured homes is generally offered using two approaches. Some policies include a laundry list of items (or perils) that may cause a loss. Other policies protect your home against everything EXCEPT for a host of specified perils. Either approach includes liability coverage that protects you for injuries or losses to others which you accidentally cause.
As your business becomes more successful, the risks of operating without proper insurance increase. Buying business insurance? Make the right choice for your company with these four tips:
1. Do Your Homework
The self-employed need to have their own back. Whether you’re a solopreneur with a web-based business, an independent contractor, or a freelance artist, you need to protect yourself and your assets. And as your business becomes more successful, the risks of doing business without proper insurance increase exponentially. In the end, you’re the boss and the buck stops with you. If you don’t protect yourself, who will?
Any event that results in a loss of income—natural disasters, acts of vandalism, illness, or frivolous lawsuits—could potentially sink your business. The best way to protect your business is with comprehensive insurance, but can you afford it?
Feeling overwhelmed by the variety of plans and packages available? Contact our agency.
We will begin by researching the insurance packages commonly carried by professionals in your industry. Depending on the nature of your business, you might need one or several of the following: general liability, commercial property insurance, professional liability, product liability, business interruption and worker’s compensation.
2. Know Your Risks
When you apply for a policy, your insurance company will measure the information contained in your application against a model of “acceptable risk” generated by an underwriter. In order to clear a profit, insurers need to do everything in their power to avoid clients whose behavior, occupation, or professional record suggests excessive risk.
An underwriter will assess your application to determine the rates and terms of your policy. Every underwritten policy carries a premium as well as a deductible. A premium is essentially the fee you pay in order to remain insured, and premiums vary widely from provider to provider.
A deductible is the amount of money you agree to pay every time you make a claim. Generally speaking, your deductible and your premium have an inverse relationship: If you agree to carry a higher deductible, then your premium payments will be significantly lower. But tread carefully: A low-premium, high-deductible policy seems like a bargain until it’s time to make a claim.
3. Let Us Shop Around for You
Insurance is the single greatest expense for many independent contractors. The cost of insurance varies for every business, but some providers specialize in insuring specific types of businesses, including independent contractors.
Our commercial insurance agents can guide you to a policy that fits the needs of your business. Our agency offers policies from a variety of companies, not just one.
Bottom Line: Running a business is an investment, and every investment contains a certain degree of risk. No matter what you do, you will never be able to eliminate risk from the freelance equation, but by buying the right insurance at the right price, you can moderate the financial risk associated with unexpected events. Nothing is as precious as peace of mind.
Family on Boat
The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the open water in front of you. Sound appealing? Then you might want to join the ranks of boat owners all over the country. But before you cut through that clear blue, there are some things to keep in mind. Whether you're buying a fishing boat, cabin cruiser, pontoon or speed boat, different components like cost, horsepower, weight capacity or onboard storage may prove to be more important to you than others.
Answer these questions before going boat shopping:
What are you hoping to use your boat for? All boat styles have a different design tailored to the use. Speed boats may be better for tubing and water skiing but wouldn't hold as many people or be as fish accessible as a pontoon or fishing boat. Maybe you're in the market for a sailboat or leaning towards a houseboat. There are so many different varieties of boats, so make an informed decision on which one is right for you.
What's your budget? This may help decide whether to purchase a pre-owned boat. New boats depreciate anywhere between 25%-33% immediately after leaving the dealer's lot. So, if you buy a pre-owned boat, someone else has already paid that depreciation cost - more boat for fewer dollars! However, buying a new boat will offer a warranty, the newest technology, and that nice shiny look as you move across the water - the choice is up to you!
How many people are you hoping to go on your boating excursions with? The capacity on personal fishing boats is generally smaller than a pontoon boat, which are made to hold anywhere between 8-15 adults comfortably.
What type of equipment will you want onboard? Here's some suggestions:
Will your car be able to tow the new boat? According to Auto Bytel, the average 21-foot boat trailer weighs between 500 and 1,000 pounds, while most boats in this size range hover in the 4,000-5,000-pound range. This means that you'll want an SUV or truck that is rated to tow between 4,500-6,000 pounds in total.
Will your new boat fit in your garage during the off season? Alongside your garage? In a separate storage space?
And a few other components to consider...
Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, like property taxes, school district, the appeal of the neighborhood—and, of course, the bottom line. Don't overlook the financial implications of homeowner’s insurance as part of your overall investment. Use this guide to help think through all the costs associated with buying a home.
Before house hunting
Set yourself up to be a financially desirable buyer.
1. Check your credit rating
A good credit history makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive interest rate, and may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance. Obtain a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it.
2. Protect yourself with a renter’s insurance policy
If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renter’s insurance policy. In the event of a disaster, renters’ insurance can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide a useful insurance history to your prospective homeowner’s insurer when you go to buy your first home.
While house hunting
As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. In some cases, desirable features—like ornate plasterwork or proximity to the coastline—can make insuring a home costlier or more difficult. Some factors to consider when shopping for a home are:
3. Quality and location of the fire department
Houses that are located near highly rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.
4. Proximity to the coastline
Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. They will also likely require a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible. In some coastal communities, private homeowner’s insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program.
5. Age of the home
A stately, older home can be quite beautiful but ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor that into the cost of ownership.
6. Condition of the roof
A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Make sure to check the roof's condition. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not it's made with fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for an insurance discount.
7. Quality of construction
Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes well built by careful craftsmen and those constructed to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.
8. Risk of flooding
Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate flood insurance, which is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few specialty insurers.
9. History of earthquakes
While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowner’s policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority.
10. Swimming pool or other special features
If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.
Before you place a bid on the home
Take precautions and understand the house's history, current condition, potential trouble spots—and costs.
11. Check the loss history report
Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home and can provide extremely valuable information. For instance, if there was a claim for water damage on the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, a claim for wind or hail that resulted in a new roof makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.
12. Get the house inspected
You’ll need to have the house inspected by a credentialed home inspector in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector to make sure he or she is thorough and makes sure to:
13. Estimate maintenance costs
Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner so be sure to factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies.
14. Call our agency
Don’t wait until the last minute to think about homeowner’s insurance and don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Ask if the house will qualify and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you speak with one of our insurance professionals, the smoother the process will be. If you're uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, look for one that better fits your financial situation.
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As an independent agent, we know the importance of properly classifying our clients.
And handymen can be especially easy to misclassify because they do so many odd jobs.
We will ask the following questions to make sure to get your classification and coverage right the first time:
1. What specific services do you provide?